Erica, your Lucky Three Ranch news for June 2018 has arrived!
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Message From Meredith Hodges

Dear Friends,

Spring is always a busy season here at the Lucky Three and just to make it a bit more interesting, our weather went bonkers! Winter overstayed its welcome with temperatures as low as 27 degrees on one day, with the next day being a high of 60 degrees...then back to cold temperatures, yet again, followed by more warm weather. It was a wild and wooly roller coaster ride at best! In April, instead of showers, “Windy Wyoming” slipped into Northern Colorado and blew at 50 mph for days at a time. So, the March winds arrived in April, and April showers arrived in May!

Luckily, we got all the equipment maintained and ready to go for hay season; and got the inside loft extension built before the winds began. When the winds finally started, they blew one of our equipment barn doors right off the this is a HUGE door. My guys could not get it back on the tracks without the professionals to help, so all they could do was lay a tall iron bar, the height of the door, up against it. They then secured that with the skid loader up against ingenious was that! I am always amazed at all the creative solutions posed by my crew to some of the many crises that arise when you have a large facility to maintain. 

The animals were annoyed at best with the weather, but I have never let the weather get in the way of my training. We always find something that we can do safely. Our draft mule, Roll, even got in a lesson, along with the minis, on a cool, Spring day. Having the indoor arena is handy however, it can get pretty loud inside when the wind is blowing as hard as it has. Ice and snow can inhibit one’s desire to go out and ride, but it can greatly enhance your equine’s ability to balance correctly if you do...just take it slowly! Even in the midst of a thunderstorm and pouring down rain, ten of my mules exited the dirt pen when called into the barn, WALKING to me calmly, knee-deep in water with flashes of lightning over their heads. It has become a challenge to see if we can all remain calm in any situation and I am so glad that my mules have learned to remain calm no matter what the weather is doing! At my age, I don’t need any more youthful drama!

This year, it was again time to get teeth floated. The equines are all trained to open their mouths so we can check and see who really needs floating simply by checking with a flashlight. Mini mouths can be somewhat of a challenge to see inside, but they were all very cooperative, even our “schizo” rescue mini mule, Francis! Most of my equines are now over 22 years old, so many of them did not need to be done at all. Those that did had no serious issues.

Bishop Mule Days will be coming up the week before and over Memorial Day weekend. I am unable to go this year, but plan to be there with bells on, with my whole crew including Jasper, for their 50th Anniversary next year. Bobby Tanner has promised us a ride in the Bishop Mule Days parade in the new Borax Wagons that we sponsored pulled by his 20-Mule Team! That is definitely something to look forward to! 

Meanwhile, I will continue to share my experience with my fellow Longears Lovers throughout the world, in hopes of making their Longears experience the best that it can be! Everything I share, I learned from my own Longears. At least I had the presence of mind to LISTEN to what they had to teach me! Wishing you all a wonderful and safe summer with your equines!

Best wishes and Happy Trails,

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Have a question for Meredith or want to give us feedback?
LTR Training Tip #80

Straight Forward Under Saddle Obstacles


Straight forward obstacles will
help your equine to maintain and even improve his balance and
coordination with a rider on board.

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I came across your elbow pull post on Facebook while researching elbow pulls. I am curious about these, as I've never heard about them before, but recently came across someone who uses it. My horse is an 18 year old Quarter Horse and was never taught proper headset or collection or vertical flexion. He hollows his back, sticks his nose to the sky and has a very choppy trot. We don't show, but I would like him to carry himself better and would like a softer ride! He will laterally flex, and just recently started vertical flexion at the standstill/walk. I give him his head as soon as he gives to the pressure but, he only holds it for a couple seconds, if that. I'm guessing I have to build him up to holding it longer but was wondering if the elbow pull will help him more? He also doesn't wear a bit, so I'm not sure if this would be beneficial to him. Could you tell me if this sounds like something that would help him and if so, where do you buy an elbow pull? Or do you make them?

Answer: I developed the “Elbow Pull” myself (copyright/patented) years ago. It is meant to be used to perpetuate the good equine posture that we develop with specifically designed leading exercises for the core strength BEFORE we put the equine in the round pen. In the round pen, the “Elbow Pull” will help the equine to hold this good posture until he is able to carry himself in that good posture without leaning on it. It is not meant to fix a head set. In our exercises, we address the posture of the whole body and not just the head and neck as you will learn from the text below. The complete explanation and how to measure and make the “Elbow Pull” can be found in my EQUUS REVISTED Manual/DVD combo that you can purchase on my website at My program is good for ALL equines and if you are willing to be patient, forego riding for a while and do the exercises as described, it can add 5-10 years of life to your animal. I use the “Elbow Pull” during the leading exercises in an hourglass pattern for good balance for older animals who have not had the benefit of this kind of training. It is not a restraint to force anything. Rather, it works like the bar on the wall does for a ballet dancer when they are first getting their balance and before they can do the moves in the middle of a room. It must be adjusted and used correctly to get the right results. I am always available for any questions you might have going forward.

“Just an update. Remember that little pony, Terry, LUCKY A RANCH feared they might have to put to sleep? The one you sent us lots of printed advice on building his core? The woman he's been staying with, who lives near the specialist who operated, read all your materials and put them to work. Terry hasn't tied up since. In his free time, he's racing around with his best buddy like a youngster should. You helped us save a life. MANY THANKS from Terry and from all of us!!”

“I hardly know where to begin. It was the most fascinating, educational, and informative experience that went far beyond our expectations! We spent 4 hours with Meredith, her staff and of course her 'Longears'. Beyond belief how her philosophy, and love regarding the care, treatment and training of these wonderful animals has made champions of them. After meeting Meredith's Longears, and learning about their remarkable abilities - I can no longer think of mules as dumb or stubborn but rather as amazing. This is a MUST for anyone in or near the Loveland area. You simply cannot afford to miss this opportunity! Meredith, thank you for allowing us into your life and that of your precious Longears. What an unforgettable experience. I wish you continued success.”

“Our group of 20+ friends had a scheduled tour of the Lucky Three Ranch. This promised to be something different from museum or art gallery tours, since the ranch specializes in mules and donkeys. My only experience with mules was seeing them on farms in North Carolina when I was very young. As an adult, I had encountered wild burros (donkeys) while backpacking in New Mexico. Most in our group expected to see a few of these animals in stables or corrals. Boy, were we surprised to arrive at a pristine facility that looked as if it might be a high-end vacation spa. Ranch owner, Meredith Hodges, greeted us and began our tour with a video explaining the ranch’s history centered on its mules and donkeys. Starting with one mule and one donkey in 1980, Hodges has bred, trained and successfully entered her mules in competitions against horses in national and international events. After the video, Hodges discussed how her recognition of the mules’ intelligence and her training using kindness and patience – and not harsh treatment - has produced many champion “long ears.” She then answered all our questions. We next toured the grounds to see an impressive collection of realistic statues of some of her mules and donkeys. We finished our tour by meeting mules in their neat stalls and outside in corrals. Our visit to Lucky Three Ranch was one of the most instructive and enjoyable tours I’ve ever taken. Hodges and her staff make this a special Colorado experience. Many of us will now think differently about mules and donkeys.”










When I first started with computers, I was intimidated and forced to employ
those who were much more skilled to help develop my Lucky Three Ranch website.
It has since been an intense learning experience to make sure that those who needed the information that I offered could find it easily whether they were computer savvy or not. Unfortunately, I discovered that what was simple to a techy was not so simple for those of us that spend more time outside in the company of our animals. So, last fall we decided to revise the entire website in order to make
things much easier to navigate for our fans.
We encourage you to visit our renewed website at and enjoy the plethora of affordable
information that we have made available to you so you can have the same safe
and enjoyable experience with your equines that I have with mine!

visit now

Three years before the Dressage Finals 2016 in Kentucky with
Laura Hermanson, “Behold the Desert” (aka “Beasley”)
won Reserve Champion All Around Mule at Bishop Mule Days with Lou Moore Jacobsen!

Bonnie’s Bit

A little BIT about Bonnie Shields

A longstanding member of the Cowboy Cartoonists Association, her wide variety of “mule art” can be viewed at numerous venues, mule and draft horse shows, Western arts and crafts shows, Western trade shows and on the internet at her website at  Her talents include drawing, painting and sculpture. She has done a wide variety from ink drawings to acrylic painting to bronze sculpture, from commissioned work to originals, all revering the mule. She has also written a multitude of articles for such publications as “The Brayer,” a bimonthly magazine put out by the American Donkey & Mule Society, “Mules & More,” and the “Bishop Mule Days program,” and her yearly publication of the “BS ‘ogram” is always a welcome read! 

Bonnie worked for 20 years with Marguerite Henry illustrating her last book, “Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley.” It was the only piece of fiction Marguerite ever wrote. In keeping with “Brown Sunshine,” Bonnie designed the first Breyer model mule and is currently working on yet another. Her work has appeared on select Leanin” Tree greeting cards over the years on such products as t-shirts, note cards, calendars, jewelry and other novelty items. 

In the past, Bonnie has illustrated the workbooks for Meredith Hodges’ video series, “Training Mules & Donkeys,” and Meredith’s Jasper the Mule children’s series. She has watched her drawings be brought to life in a new animated series beginning with the first book, Jasper: The Story of a Mule, produced by Meredith Hodges and Media Tech Productions, narrated by actor, Lee Horsley, musical score by “Riders In The Sky” and animated by Bill Melendez Productions, producer of the “Peanuts” holiday specials, with the sequels to follow.  In 2006, Bonnie was inducted into the Bishop Mule Days Artist’s Hall of Fame. Despite public demand, Bonnie always makes time to spend with her mules during the year exploring the beautiful scenery and experiencing the wonder that the mountains have to offer. Her mountain adventures are never dull and invariably contribute to her diversity of work and her infectious sense of humor!


Visit our Lucky Three Ranch
web store and see some of the art for sale from 

 ​Tennessee Mule Artist 
Bonnie Shields
And don’t forget to visit her website to find out more
about the Wild and Wonderful World of Bonnie Shields,
Tennessee Mule Artist, Cowboy Cartoonist and True Artist!

Hearts & Horses is Raising the Barn!


​Building a foundation for the future of Hearts & Horses is now in its most exciting stage. Hearts & Horses, a therapeutic riding center, serves people with disabilities in Northern Colorado.  Over the last 20 years, we have grown to serving 180 riders per week, expanded to a 23-acre ranch, and have one of the largest volunteer programs in Larimer County.  Many individuals with physical disabilities, veterans, youth at risk, and other special needs populations improve their lives significantly with the help of Hearts & Horses.  As our success has grown, so too has the demand for our services, hence the need for a new arena.   This new arena, with its innovative design, will allow Hearts & Horses to serve more riders, reducing and ultimately eliminating our increasing waitlist. 

To meet the expanding needs of the community and enhance program excellence, Hearts & Horses initiated a capital campaign to replace our fabric covered arena with a larger, more durable and safer insulated steel building.

​Hearts & Horses has designed a state of the art facility which will include one larger arena (which can be divided into two spaces depending on volume of riders), community classrooms, family observation areas, handicap accessible bathrooms, a tack room and an extensive grooming area to handle multiple classes at once.   

The Steel Arena Will:

  • Withstand weather and wind to maximize safety 
  • Increase rider progress since classes will not be cancelled due to inclement weather 
  • Enhance rider health and comfort. The new arena will be a dust free and temperate environment 
  • Enable program expansion. Increased arena size will allow for enhanced rider capacity. 
  • Lower building maintenance costs 
  • Generate additional revenue opportunities; such as community service lectures, retreats, special events.  

Slated for completion in July 2019, the new arena is projected to cost $1.5 million dollars.  Such a major achievement is accomplished only through the generosity of many. 

Meredith Hodges, from Lucky Three Ranch, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Hearts & Horses for decades.  

After spending 20 years supporting Hearts & Horses, it wasn’t difficult to decide whether to help build this new arena.  They simply need more usable space for more classes to move people off the waitlist and into action!  Over the years, I carefully watched how my money was being spent, the success of the initial program, the competence of the administrators, therapists, and volunteers who unselfishly gave of their time and effort, and I was duly impressed by their dedication and experience.  Words cannot express my respect and admiration for Hearts & Horses.  I am honored to be part of an extraordinary legacy.  Meredith Hodges

​In order to honor Meredith’s legacy at Hearts & Horses this new arena will be aptly named Lucky Hearts Arena.

For many of the riders at Hearts & Horses, this is the first and only place where teams of people believe in their abilities. It is not only a goal of the organization to make people better and happier; but it is also a core value that weaves a tapestry of commitment and energy throughout the ranch.  From the Board of Directors to the staff and volunteers, Hearts & Horses encourages all their riders to reach their full potential.  We are changing lives every day.  

Interested in finding out more on the Raise the Barn Campaign?  

Please visit the Hearts & Horses website at:

Tamara Merritt,​ Associate Executive Director, Hearts & Horses


Debbie Dehn, Board Member; Meredith Hodges, Lucky Three Ranch; 
Jan Pollema, Executive Director; Roger Bates, Board President; 
Kathy Coulson, Former Board Member; Tamara Merritt, Associate Executive Director

Tamara Merritt, Associate Executive Director; Jan Pollema, Executive Director; 
Meredith Hodges, Owner, Lucky Three Ranch

Don’t Miss our
Buy the Equus Revisited Combo 
and get  
A Guide to Raising and Showing Mules

Purchase the Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth Book 
and get the Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth DVD 
and the Jasper Music CD


Sales run the whole month of July!

leah’s corner

Hello all from the scorching land of Texas.  Once again, Mother Nature has decided we have no rules.  It is on average ten degrees hotter than it normally is for the year.  This means a lot of us have had no transition between winter and summer (in all seriousness, we had record low temps the first of April and are now having record highs the last week of May). 

A lot of people on the social media groups are asking about clipping their donkeys.  Donkeys are desert animals, and usually adapt well.  There are some guidelines you should keep in mind if you must clip your animals. 

First, do not clip very young foals that are still nursing.  It's been recorded too many times to count where an owner has shaved a young foal, and the dam has promptly rejected the foal, even if they were well bonded.  It's thought that the sudden loss of the hair coat might also decrease the scent of the foal, and mum doesn't recognize baby.   If you must take hair down on a little foal, try scissoring the entire coat length in half, or doing a modified clip where only the head/neck are clipped, to help with cooling. 

A partial clip is always best if possible.  Just be sure, no matter what clip you do, that your clipper blades are sharp to begin with.  The other key element is a clean, clean donkey.  Bath, dry, brush.  Dirt in the coat will dull those blades in the blink of an eye. 

Some people use shedding blades, some find that heavy brushing every day will help.  Whatever method you use, be prepared to have to use additional products - sun screen, fly spray, fans and shade, on an animal that may be lighter skinned that now has exposed skin areas.  

Fly products are also a big subject.  Not all products work for everyone - there are people that are allergic to some products - myself being one of them.  I cannot use pyrethrin based products on my animals, or even be near the container.  My animals have done well in past with a yellow sulfur block - they lick it, the sulfur sweats out onto the skin and reduces insects.   When any other method is required I cannot be around my animal, nor pet or groom them.  Find what works for you! 

Keeping manure piles picked up and out of the way is useful, as are fly predators. You may end up using a variety of products and methods to keep yourself and your animals comfortable. 

One more item, less common in summer than fall or spring, and that is travel with your animals.   They might not want to drink water on the road, and that is ESSENTIAL in the summer heat.  Try flavoring their water with Gatorade or some such, several days before the trip.  Sometimes this jump-starts them into taking more water.  Also, remember that metal can you are hauling them in will turn into a sweat box.  Move at night whenever possible, make sure vents are open, check on them often.  Heat exhaustion is a real concern. 

Cool shady areas, ponds for wallowing, mud for standing in, fans, cool water available all the time, most animals will find a routine on their own for keeping comfortable.  Do what you can to help them by providing shelter, clean feed and water, grooming and daily maintenance.

Here's hoping to a safe and slightly-less hellish Summer!

Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS 

The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc.
PO Box 1210,
Lewisville TX 75067
(972) 219-0781.
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Watch Anytime, With Video On Demand.
Did you know you can watch Meredith's award-winning training anytime, on all your devices? Watch all the episodes of Training Mules and Donkeys 
plus Give Your Equine the Athletic Edge.

More in the mood for some entertainment? Catch Those Magnificent Mules or let the kids go have an adventure with Jasper and his friends.
All six Jasper the Mule specials are available with special features.

Three day rentals and all videos have closed captions!
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